The Bare Essentials to Get Started in Real Estate Photography

April 29th, 2008

I’ve talked to and met a number of people recently that are just getting started in real estate photography. Many of their questions center around what equipment and software do you need to get started. Here is my current recommendation assuming that you want to spend as little as possible:

  • Body: Canon XT or Nikon D40 – about $450 – Don’t get the 18-55mm kit lens unless you are going to use it for something other than real estate photography.
  • Wide-angle lens: Sigma 10-20mm ultra wide lens – $479 – If you are getting a Canon body and can afford it go for the Canon 10-22mm lens – it’s a gem but its closer to $700. If you are getting Nikon body go for the Nikon 12-24mm if you can afford around $900.
  • Flash: Canon 580 EXII or Nikon SB-800 – Get the same brand as your body.
  • Photo-editor: Adobe Lightroom – $299
  • Straighting Vertical and correcting barrel distortion: Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 – $79 at Costco.

When you have extra budget spend it on the glass because that’s something you will keep for a long time and in real estate photography the wide-angle lens is the most important piece of equipment you own.For flashes I recommend getting the top of the line (most power) and the same brand as the body you buy because this will be the flash you use on-camera and you will have the option to use in either manual or automatic mode. As you purchase more than the first flash purchase SB-26,  SB-80s since they have optical triggers.For photo-editing Lightroom is far and away the easiest to use and best choice but you will need something in addition to Lightroom to straighten verticals and remove barrel distortion. There are others but PSE 6.0 is a very good choice.Unless you spring for the more expensive glass I recommend above, all of this adds up to around $1650 whether you purchase Canon or Nikon. I think this list is a rock bottom that you will need to get into real estate photography. Don’t try to do it with a point an shoot camera. $1650 is a pretty small equipment investment to get started in a business.

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54 Responses to “The Bare Essentials to Get Started in Real Estate Photography”

  • For HDR, you need the exact same framing, so for stability, I :

    – Use a cheap and strong tripod : Velbon CX540 for 70 US dollars
    – pre-lift the mirror (lift the mirror 0.4 seconds before taking the shot to eliminate any vribration),
    – because I haven’t found any remote control from the shops around me (south of France), I use the 10 seconds delay.

    I do not use any flash. Maybe if one day I can find a wide-angle diffuser for a SB800, i will use one.

    I found home owners and realtors to like it when you ask for the best time of the day for the best light available in the house. Looks professional.

  • I just stumbled on this site and have been looking through the various nuggets of information — thanks for maintaining this resource! As a Sony Alpha user, though, I do want to correct your earlier statement regarding Sony’s system, which I will grant that in 2008 was more limited than today. However, every manufacturer has a “closed system” because they all have specific mounts — critisizing Sony seems a tad misguided to me. Sony’s lens lineup is increasing every year, and their glass runs the gamut from mediocre to world-class, just like the other manufacturers.

    Sony’s Alpha series utilizes Sony, Minolta, Konica-Minolta, Sigma, and Tamron lenses designed for the Alpha or the Minolta Maxxum. Sony’s ultrawide is the 11-18mm, both Sony and Tamron versions (and older Minolta), but there are also the Sigma 10-20mm, the Sigma 12-24mm, and the Tamron 10-24mm for the Alpha. If one is using a full frame camera like the A900 or the recent A850, the KM 17-35 or the Sony Carl Zeiss 16-35 are options along with several others from Sigma and Tamron. Further, the Carl Zeiss lens is at the very least a match for anything in Canon’s or Nikon’s lineups.

    One significant advantage of the Alpha system, inherited from Minolta, is the ability to use the onboard flash as a flash controller for wireless use of Sony or Minolta flashguns, with even the lowliest of bodies from Sony. With the purchase of one flashgun, you have the ability to do wireless flash. If you want to use an external flashgun as a controller (or have the full frame cameras without onboard flash), you can get the HVL-F58AM which can do ratio control of the latest flashguns.

    I don’t work for Sony, incidentally! Just don’t discount them as amateur or professional photography tools.

  • Hi guys, I just wanted to have your feedback on Olympus E-410, I bought this camera years ago, now need to use it for interiors shooting. May you indicate optimal parameters as I haven’t been happy with outcomes till now. Thanks for any advices. Mike

  • Sounds like a great camera. I am in the market for a new one and the reviews I find on here are really helping.

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